Senator Eric Abetz full of praise following visit to Ta Ann Group Holdings in Malaysia

As part of a tour of Asia, Australian Senator Eric Abetz was able to inspect first hand the facilities of Ta Ann Holdings Berhad in Sarawak and the efforts being made towards sustainable and environmentally sound operations.

Ta Ann operations in Sarawak were inspected by Senator Eric Abetz on 3 Nation tour of Asia Tasmania. Senator Eric Abetz requested the opportunity to look at Ta Ann operations in Malaysia and to see first-hand some of the issues raised by critics of the company. These included dealings with native customary rights including the Penan.

The Senator met with seven Penan communities, over 50 people including Headmen and senior representatives. Ta Ann has yet to commence forest operation after purchasing the licence in 2007, it has participated in a social and economic study identifying a Penan reserve of 3,230 ha, about 10% of the area, and is engaging in a consultation process, observed by a local NGO and the WWF, and now Senator Abetz.

WWF is also observing the high conservation value forest assessment and discussions between the Penan communities and the company. A very different story from the inaccurate claims of the Huon Valley Environment Centre. Senator Eric Abetz also took the opportunity to visit the monitoring field station of the Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (LEWS) to receive an up to date briefing on the efforts to manage Sarawak’s endangered species including the iconic Orang Utan.

Major orang utan populations are now found in the TPAs (Total protected areas), WWF estimates there are about 1,300 orang-utans, almost all in the Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and the adjacent Batang Ai National Park in Sarawak.

The Senator also inspected forest operations in Pasin, looked at timber and palm oil plantations and inspected Joint venture Native customary rights projects with the Iban, who hosted him in a visit to their long house.

He also met government officials responsible for forestry and sustainable development. Eric also toured the Ta Ann Plywood mill and saw delivered packs of certified Tasmanian veneer as well as the finished plywood E (for eucalypt) product.

The Senator trip was part of a three nation tour of Asian countries looking at issues affecting Australia, he will make a report to the Senate, and has already briefed Ta Ann Tasmania’s management team on his trip, and his appreciation to TA staff allowing well organised but free and unfettered access to issues that he requested to understand.